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An Update from the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum Director Regarding COVID-19 and Our 2020 Season

May 07th, 2020

Dear Friends:
I hope you and your family are safe and healthy.  These are challenging times filled with uncertainty; COVID-19 has completely changed our world.

The safety of our members, visitors, volunteers, and staff is our utmost concern.  We don’t know what the future will look like, but social distancing and strict hygiene standards will likely be with us for quite some time.  Realistically, the exhibition rooms in our museum do not provide for safe distancing.  Our outdoor events would run into similar problems, particularly our concession stand and restroom facilities.

With this in mind and for the safety of all, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 season at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum.  The museum will not be open to the public this year, and all events scheduled to be held at the museum will be canceled or rescheduled to the 2021 season.

This doesn’t mean that nothing will be happening at the lighthouse.  We will continue to cultivate our beautiful flower gardens, protect and preserve our historic lighthouse building, and maintain our grounds.  We are a perfect location for a stroll if you are engaging in safe outdoor exercise.  I will be improving the museum’s exhibition space and expanding the catalog of the museum’s collection.  I plan to develop educational resources to share electronically—as videos or downloads through our website.  Tom Lightfoot and Rosa Fox will complete the next issue of the Sodus Bay Historical Society’s newsletter; look for it in your e-mail inbox very soon. 

The administrative work of the lighthouse will continue as well, including government reports, grant applications, member communications, and appeals for donations.  Now more than ever we need your financial support.  Like everyone else on Sodus Bay, we suffered through two years of flooding and the resulting decrease in tourism to our area, which took a financial toll in 2017 and 2019; we were looking forward to a great season at the lighthouse in 2020 to help us recover.

Our customary annual operating budget is just under $150,000; however, we have been operating under an austerity budget since March.  We received a small amount of funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) administered by the Small Business Administration, but it is far from enough to offset our loss of income.  We—along with all other cultural organizations in the U.S.—are looking for grants, but dollars are scarce.

Memberships, sponsorships, and donations are critical and typically cover about 40% of our annual operating budget.  The rest is realized only when we are able to:

*       collect admissions and donations from museum visitors;
*       provide concessions and “pass the hat” to concertgoers;
*       sell souvenirs and gifts in our museum store;
*       host wedding ceremonies;
*       hold our Lighthouse 5-K Run, Art & Craft Show, and Breakfast on the Bluff as part of our annual Independence Extravaganza.

The modest profits we realize from our activities make it possible for us to operate.  We will not have those sources of income in 2020.

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